Exploring different generations: A phenomenological study on conflict management in the workplace

by Harris, Miriam C., Ph.D., CAPELLA UNIVERSITY, 2015, 175 pages; 3722198


The large and diverse generational workforce working in the federal government underscore the importance of understanding the lived experiences of U.S. federal government managers in managing possible generational conflicts. The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to understand the lived experiences of U.S. federal government managers and how they managed workplace conflicts among the Baby Boomers, Generations Xers, and Millennials whose direct reports are from different generations. The researcher interviewed 15 managers who worked for three distinct U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) agencies located in the southern part of the United States. Among the participants, four were from the Baby Boomers generation, nine were from the Generation Xers, and two were Millennials. The researcher also conducted brief informal observations. Content analysis of interview data and field notes revealed that managers observed and experienced differences in work goals, ethics, and attitudes among the three generations, which can lead to conflicts. However, generational conflicts were acceptable as long as leaders knew how to manage effectively. This implies that the U.S. federal agencies’ managers must understand the goals, ethics, and attitudes of all of their followers so the appropriate motivational strategies can be used and effective interpersonal communication can be facilitated. By exploring the lived experiences of the managers, the study shows that the Department of Defense can be embroiled with generational conflicts, which can negatively affect interactions within the department and the department’s productivity.

AdviserSteven Jeddeloh
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsBusiness administration; Management; Organizational behavior
Publication Number3722198

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